There is a certain energy I, my husband, and son all feel when it snows. It is a cheerful bust of fresh insight and renewed vivacity. We HAVE to get outside to be in the middle of the weather, too. However, I for one do not in the least like the cold so I love the challenge of dressing up in the utmost fashion while still staying cozy and warm. Hubby calls me a “snow bunny” when I am so perfectly put together in my handmade wardrobe for the snowy weather. All I know is that when I feel fabulous in my chic, me-made items that in itself brings on bonus energy…and compliments from others. Yes, you really can wear something other than boring, practical clothes for the snow. After all, it is the prettiest of weather occurrences, in my opinion, for where we live!
So, here is my latest, greatest, and newest “snow bunny” sewing project for our most recent winter storm – an 80’s era faux fur bomber jacket. It has an integral scarf feature to keep me ultimately cozy. The “fur” has a thick knit base for comfort and ease of movement. The hem bindings and scarf are soft, matching fleece. It has dramatic batwing sleeves and an unexpected asymmetric closing. Best of all, it is a designer style from my favorite couture creator, Emanuel Ungaro!
The soft texture and icy light blue color suits as a proper follow up to my previous post, my Snow Queen inspired “Pandemic Princess” dress. Not that this is actually a part of that blog series, but I certainly had my recent princess dress still on my mind when I whipped this jacket together, you can tell. It is related, but separate. That Snow Queen dress was my last project for 2020 and this related jacket was my first for 2021. Crown or no crown, the inner modern princess in me delights in the practical luxury of this fun and warm little coat. The falling snow is the best backdrop visual compliment to it I could have possibly wanted.
If you notice the details, there is a lot of older pieces from on hand which came together perfectly for this outfit. For keeping my scarf in place, I included a giant snowflake pin, which I have had for many years now. The beige boots and Isotoner brand gloves are 80’s vintage pieces from my mom back from before my time. My skirt is something I had bought RTW from the early 2000 decade but has a nice touch of vintage reference to it, I think. It is almost 30’s style with its fit-and-flare design and suit inspired herringbone acrylic knit material. Yet, the 80’s rehashed many decades successfully and besides – a slim fitting bottom separate is the best option for a poufy jacket like this one. I’ve always wanted something me-made and dressy to match with this skirt ever since I got it so many years back. Finally, that idea has come true and it is glorious.
FABRIC: One yard of a polyester faux fur combined with scraps of a polyester anti-pill fleece leftover from making this 60’s inspired Burda Style cocoon coat.
PATTERN: Vogue Paris Original Design #1620, year 1985
NOTIONS NEEDED: Just thread and a two hook-and-eyes, which I had on hand. No interfacing needed!
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was made in 15 hours and finished on January 4, 2021.
TOTAL COST: I got the fur on sale and the fleece was remnants (thus free) so the total was only about $10.
I had been holding onto the materials used on this coat for 2 years. Only recently did inspiration suddenly strike as to what to do with the faux fur and fleece remnants. I originally though a puffy vest might look good, or a princess-seamed moto jacket. I only had one yard of fur to work with after all and scraps of random sizes. Then I suddenly thought of how unconventional fashion choices appear so much more tasteful when using designer inspiration. There is almost no one designer I favor more than Ungaro for killer coats, jackets, and suit blazers. This is my second jacket design of Ungaro’s that I have made (see the first one here) from my pattern stash. I have many more patterns of his in my cabinets yet to make, so, after how much I like the two I have sewn, consider this the beginning of an obsession.
Anyway, I figured, as I wanted this to match with a particular blue skirt (as I mentioned above), I had certain styles to figure which would complement but contrast with its slim silhouette. I also wanted something new and different, something unlike what I currently have. This wide and generous bomber jacket style was a happy guess-timate on my part. I like bold fashion choices and I know it, which is why the 80’s is so appealing to me. It would be such a relief if only I could get past the crushing self-doubt I have to deal with every time I create such a project.
This faux fur is really sparse in loftiness or the ‘hair’ and therefore was easy to work with. It reminds me of the kind of fur that is used for the ‘skin’ of such characters as Elmo, Grover, and Oscar who are on “Sesame Street” or Animal from “The Muppets”. I only had to do minor parting of the fur at the minimal seams that were on this jacket. I did no clipping of the fur as I prefer the long nap of it. I also used a ball point needle in my machine to sew it and that worked out smoothly as there is a thick chain knitted backing. It is soft underneath and not scratchy so I followed the instructions and did not line the coat. I don’t need convincing to keep a simple project, well…simple. Amazingly, this is plenty warm being one layer.
What adds to the warmth of the jacket is a combo of the fact that the front is a double-breasted wrap and there is an integral scarf collar. My hubby said that the features of this coat reminded him of the 1950s, and turns out he wasn’t far off. I have found several instances of integral scarf collar jackets and suits coats used on designer fashions of the late 50’s to early 60’s. I did not interface the collar because you want it to be more like an attached scarf you cannot loose (so handy). The pattern for it was all one piece that is folded in half, ending in an angled, pointed seam just like all those vintage original examples I show. I love how the collar scarf follows the asymmetric neckline, closing on the left shoulder.
The chest of the coat is double layered because it completely wraps around to close at the inner shoulder seam, oppositely of the scarf closing (right side). I sewed in an oversize hook-and-eye in this spot and it is almost hidden in the plushness of the knit underside. This way my jacket is just as neat if I choose to leave the scarf neck open instead of closed. It is kind of similar to a moto jacket when worn with the neck scarf undone, a style I had a mind to possibly choose anyway. There is a still a little room for versatility here.
One look at the envelope cover and you can see the one major detail I did leave out – the peplum. Especially when paired with the matching skirt, I just could not like the peplum on the jacket. I cut them out, and made them, and pinned them to the bottom of the otherwise finished main body. I don’t know how the models made the original design seem so appealing, but the peplum made my jacket seem to drown me and become frumpy in style overall. Part of my issue was that my peplum was cut in the same contrast fleece I chose for the scarf collar. I had no other choice working on such limited cuts of material! I believe the peplum issue comes down to the fact it added too much of a different color and texture to pair well with the fur of the main body.
This jacket was originally supposed to be a wrap closing at the waist but with the peplum gone, that would no longer work. I cut off the long ties I had sewn into the side seams and unpicked the longer of the two. Then I turned it into a hem casing and added a hook-and-eye at the corresponding spots along the new waistline. (The front waistline pleats match together.) Later I turned that second shorter tie into something worthwhile, so my tweaks to the design after the fact I were not a complete loss.
As the exterior fur is slightly itchy, I adapted the sleeve hems to match with the new waist hem. I luckily had some pre-made fleece blanket binding which happened to be the same color as the fleece I was using. I hand sewed strips of that over the wrist hem underneath the fur. Just enough of the binding is sticking out to both be noticed and prevent the fur from touching my skin. Hand sewing was easy because the wrist openings were skinny fitting and the fur covers up the thread nicely. This is why I also hand stitched down the facing inside along the front jacket openings. Designer inspired projects always deserve fine finishing.
Ungaro’s year 1985 jacket was an incredibly easy project for being a Designer Vogue pattern. This, coupled with the unused waist tie and peplum, led me to take the extra step to whip up a small accessory for myself out of the leftover remnants. I made a little headband out of the tubing of the one waist tie left! I cut the length of it in half, wrapped those two halves around each other, then hand tacked the joining fold where they meet in the center. Finally, I stitched the ends together to a small cut of brown elastic (to match my hair). It was easy, impromptu, and fun with no pattern needed! I can always use a cute winter accessory. I am still left with challenge of finding a good way to reuse the peplum’s fleece. Should I try handmade gloves, maybe, for something very different and novel? Or maybe a pair of 1940s era house slippers? I have a pattern for almost anything here on hand.
What is commonly seen as inclement weather, is merely an opportunity to for me to keep off the chill in self-made style. ‘Warm but fashionable’ is a combo I do not see most RTW fashion offering unless it is in a higher end price range. If you can sew, though, those boundaries do not apply. I made this on one yard and some remnants. It was designer made in under 20 hours. Send your worst, winter. My wardrobe is prepared for you and my pocketbook is not on empty either.
I hope you enjoy the snow as much as I do…but perhaps you don’t even get to see it at all where you live. It transforms the cold into a visual delight (that is only good until you have to drive in it). If you have made an item to counter your inclement weather, something that you feel great in but is useful at the same time, let me know! I want to see how others interpret such a challenge of overcoming the elements in style.